Red Recuperación: A tech-enabled response to the Venezuelan humanitarian crisis

Matheus Felipe
NeedsList
Published in
4 min readMay 27, 2021

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Pricuma camp, in Brazil — Matheus Felipe Pereira de Souza

Last year, at the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, I was working at an international NGO, responding to the Venezuelan humanitarian emergency which has displaced more than five million people. Our office received several donations from different parts of the world including about eight hundred thousand bars of soap and more than two hundred thousand bottles of rubbing alcohol.

The goal was to distribute these items to actors working in the local humanitarian context, however, we had a tremendous challenge: how to identify organizations who needed these donations. It may sound strange when I tell you that it was hard! Due to COVID-19, many institutions were already distributing soaps, alcohol gel, and hygiene kits to migrants and refugees. In this sense, it was a challenge to find organizations in need.

It took us weeks to map and understand the work and needs of these organizations. We wasted precious time on emails, spreadsheets and phone calls, planning the distribution of articles that were key to protecting our target population from the COVID-19 virus.

At the time, I thought that there must be an easier, faster and more efficient way to do this work in Latin America?

Venezuelan refugees and migrants in Peru — COOPI

Enter Red Recuperación

One year later I find myself spearheading an initiative with exactly this purpose. Red Recuperación is an online platform that aggregates the needs of organizations that work withVenezuelans and match them with offers of products, services, information, training and donations from the nonprofit, public, and private sectors. We’re using the software developed by NeedsList in partnership with NGOs COOPI, Scalabrini International Migration Network, Diálogo Diverso, and Presente to support organizations that work with the Venezuelan population, piloting an entirely new model of aid based on peer to peer networks.

Suppose we had access to Red Recuperación in March of 2020. Had I been made aware of this tool last year, our work could have been optimized, saving time, resources and potentially saving more Venezuelan refugees and migrants from the potential risks of COVID-19 infection.

Screenshot of Red Recuperación Portal

How it works: Access to needs/offers in real-time

It's a platform that will safely allow to associate the needs of the local contexts with potential offers that will be able to reach the beneficiaries to cover their real needs—Sharon Granados, Development Associate, SIMN

Red Recuperación allows organizations to publish the needs of different types (products, services, information, training, etc.) and makes them available to other non-profit organizations, public and private organizations. These needs and offers give users a better vision and understanding of the local context. When a need/offer is posted, the software automatically matches them with corresponding posts, speeding up the process of getting people what they need, when they need it.

Increased coordination power

In the humanitarian field, we have said that coordination saves lives. Aggregating of needs is a longstanding challenge in crisis relief — a centralized database will allow for better planning and coordination. Our hypothesis with Red Recuperación is that a faster way for organizations to access products and services, will result in more efficient and speedier delivery of aid to refugees and migrants.

In addition, the platform also has an excellent reporting system, which we will utilize to heighten accountability and transparency for the response.

Shifting power to the local level

Red Recuperación was designed as a tool to move resources to local organization often overlooked by the public and private sectors. Given the ongoing pandemic we seek to strengthen resilience of the local health community, supporting a greater integration of refugees and migrants with the local community. We know that this pandemic and humanitarian crisis requires a multi-sector response — all hands on deck.

Martha Fernandez explains the local context in Peru —at the launch of Red Recuperación

The official launch of Red Recuperación in Peru was on May 20 with over 80 organizations representing private, NGO, and public sectors. If you missed it you can check out the recording.

If your organization is in Latin America and wants to have access to resources or improve its capacities to better serve refugees and migrants, also to increase its field of action and respond more quickly to the needs of refugees and migrants, reach out to join Red Recuperación!

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Matheus Felipe
NeedsList

Humanitarian. Helping refugees and migrants using technology.